We have now spent a little over two months on the road visiting various national parks: Zion, Yosemite, Great Basin, Arches, and Bryce Canyon. Since the National Parks are so far from each other, we have also spent a significant amount of time also visiting BLM Land, National Forests, and a few State Parks. Of all the lands we have visited, hiked, and camped, we have found that the National Parks (although quite awe-inspiring) are our least favorite because of overpopulation with tourists and dogs are not allowed. My 25th birthday, October 27, 2011, was spent hiking in the Escalante Wilderness (BLM land), and this was my most favorite of all.
Our original plan for my birthday was to be spent hiking in Moab, Utah in Canyonlands National Park. This changed, as our plans normally do on a daily basis, as Scott and I were driving from Bryce Canyon National Park to Moab through the Escalante Wilderness. I turned to Scott as we were passing through the town of Escalante and commented, “Babe, I think there is must more to be explored in this area.”
Scott’s perfect response, as it has always been during this trip, was, “alright hun, let’s check it out.”
We quickly pulled over and explored a local outdoor store asking the manager, “Are we making a mistake driving through this park of Utah on our way to Moab?” He confirmed our suspicions.
"The Escalante is my favorite place to hike and backpack taking all the National Parks into account."
After a few minutes of chatting, our plan to hike through Spooky Canyon and Peek-a-boo Canyon was set. We first had to camp along the main highway 12, and the following day we drove the 30 miles down the dirt road of Hole-In-The-Rock to an unmarked trailhead. With the GPS, water, and TOPO Map in hand, we hiked down the ridge to the wash.
Peek-a-boo Canyon is hidden 12 feet above the wash floor with a knee deep mud puddle at the bottom with a few jumping rocks leading the way to the foot holds on the rock. As we approached the climb, we heard a couple above sloshing through water attempting to climb down from the canyon. We decided that there was no use trying to stay dry, so we passed the stones and jumped right into the mud puddle.
Every climb in Peek-a-boo was seconded by a mud puddle called a toilet bowl. Climb, splash, climb, splash for a half mile and we were finally out at the top. What a blast we had! Then we hiked along the ridge to Spooky Canyon which was about a half mile hike to the south and luckily dry. We had been told that Spooky narrowed down to two feet wide, but they were wrong. Spooky definitely narrowed down to one foot wide and you should have seen the passing technique as our up canyon hike met up with another couples down canyon hike. Let’s just say there was no personal space on that pass. After a mile of side shuffling through Spooky, we headed back to the car and I immediately declared this hike as “THE BEST HIKE EVER!” I was definitely bitten by the canyoneering bug and since have been looking for a place to learn repelling techniques so that I can explore more.
I have also since declared UTAH my favorite state in the US.
Scott and I currently find ourselves in a quaint cafe in the quaint town of Sebastopol, California just 15 miles east of Bodega Bay. Since the beginning of our journey, we have learned quite a few things:
1. Wifi is easily available - We have found several cafe’s and coffee shops with free wifi, however it can be very slow wifi. Since winter is quickly approaching Scott and I needed a couple winter accessories before setting off into the backcountry. My NorthFace Jacket was purchased in Santa Barbara at a coffee shop called The French Press and shipped to my aunt in Modesto. Scott’s Patagonia jacket and bear canister was purchased at a coffee shop in San Luis Obispo called The Black Horse and shipped to my mother’s best friend in Sebastopol. Although it is not the most simple method of purchasing gear, it saves us a lot of money!
2. Dogs are very common around these wifi spots - For those of you who don’t know, George has be a bit of a pain around other dogs. He loves dogs and wants to meet them all! When another dog comes into view, he sets off into a barking rampage complete with attempts to dig himself out of the car through the window (yes, his claws have left quite the artistic impression on our windows). Walter is a great buddy, so he joins in on the fun of making our Honda Element a rocking barking machine! Since this happens every time we use wifi, our “interwebbing” turns into a speed race of reading emails and buying supplies. I think it took us 10 minutes to find my jacket online and purchase it. Good thing I knew what I wanted!
3) Keeping a journal by computer is very difficult - If it were not for the IPHONE tumblr app, we would not be able to keep up with our blog! Unfortunately that means that we have resorted to paper and pen journals that much of you will not see unless we publish a book at the completion. I plan on making this happen for sure!
4) Camping in California is very expensive! - This state has so much to see and so much to do. It is unfortunate that they charge an arm and a leg to do so. There is no BML land and very few free campsites. Not to mention they charge to get into a National Forest, which is unconstitutional. For my young readers (HI BECKETS!), National Forests are paid for by our federal tax dollars meaning that the government owns the land, and we “own” the government so the land is public land. The state of California had decided to start charging to park on the land for day use and to start charging for camping as well. So we are getting charged to use our land that we have already paid for. A couple weeks ago we were charged $35 for an annual pass use the land.
Yesterday was a financially stressful day. It started by receiving a parking ticket in San Francisco in the amount of $75 for parking at a meter, which accepted our $1 in quarters, from 12:45-12:55. Apparently we missed the fine print at the bottom of the meter that declared that this one solitary meter was not usable until 1pm. Ironically this was at the corner of Haught and Ashbury, historically known as the heart of the anti-government movement (it is a famous hippie corner). We have contemplated not paying the ticket on principle.
After this ticket we drove to a campsite that declared itself “dog friendly” online, but upon our arrival we learned that it was wrong. We were directed to another camp that attempted to charge us $35 a night, but opted to drive out to Bodega Bay and see what we could find there and were very disappointed when we fell upon a very crowded campground at $42 a night. ”The people who know where the best camping are the bums,” Scott declared. ”Let’s go to the local surf shop and see what they say.” And this is what we did.
The very nice owner of the surf shop, who talked exactly like Matthew McConaughey, directed us to a neighborhood of rental units that have been closed for the winter. He claimed that he lived there and has directed many travelers to camp there. So at 9:30pm we drove into this neighborhood, parked in front of a dark house, popped the top, and went to bed for a wonderfully peaceful and quite nights sleep to the sound of the waves crashing along the shore. At 6:30am, while it was still dark, we snuck back out without leaving a trace and were quite happy with the money saved. It is quite possible we will be doing this more in the future, at least in this expensive state.
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